Russell will walk to a spot underneath the basket. All alone. He will take the pass from Bird and make the easy layup, and the doors will close on an era. Not only will the Garden era, the Celtics era, be gone, but also the era of old-time arenas, the cramped and crowded, working-class, big-city athletic showplaces. The oldest building in the NBA will become the Los Angeles Sports Arena, built in 1959. The L.A. Sports Arena?
Ten years from now, no more than 15, the final shot will become a dunk. Russell dunked and the backboard shattered and everyone left and the Boston Garden was closed and the rats ran into the sea. That was the way it was.